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Instant ramen cups and packages are go-to meals when you need something quick and filling. And the way food prices have been in the U.S. lately, it’s not just for broke college students anymore. But have you ever thought to mix a little peanut butter in ramen?
Mixing ramen with peanut butter hadn’t occurred to me — but it’s not exactly a new idea. People have been hacking their ramen dishes by adding peanut butter for years. And Asian peanut-based noodle dishes (think pad thai or Sichuan dan dan noodles) are much older than that, with interesting histories. I was definitely game to try it out.
In my first crack at a peanut-butter-in-ramen dish, I used a shrimp flavor-cooked ramen package — flavoring packet discarded. I added a generous dollop of standard creamy peanut butter (the sugar-added kind) and mixed it in.
This version was a no for me. Maybe I added too much peanut butter for the amount of noodles, but it tasted like a peanut butter noodle sandwich, and I didn’t want to take more than a few bites.
However, the type of ramen flavor you use may make a difference. Mike’s Mighty Good Ramen suggests that kim chi ramen might be a great flavor balance to add peanut butter to. The site also discusses whether using crunchy versus creamy peanut butter or sweetened versus natural or unsweetened peanut butter makes a difference.
In searching for peanut butter ramen dishes I came across Budget Bytes’ version. I’ve made other recipes from the site before and its version seemed straightforward, so I tried it out.
The ingredients include instant ramen with the seasoning packet discarded, soy sauce, natural peanut butter, brown sugar and garlic chili sauce. Budget Bytes suggests a spicy one but I found a Thai sweet garlic chili sauce since I don’t love a lot of spice. If you want to stick to the recipe, sriracha and Huy Fong chili garlic sauce are recommended.
Boil water for your ramen. Mix the soy sauce, brown sugar, peanut butter and garlic chili sauce together and add a bit of boiling water from the pot to smooth it all out.
Then cook the ramen in the boiling water for a few minutes, drain, and pour the peanut mixture on top of the noodles.
Mix it all together and top with chopped green onions. Here’s how mine came out.
The green onions made this dish for me because they balanced out the flavors of the sauce. Using natural peanut butter also improved the dish because it had a more straightforward peanut taste compared to the commercial, sugar-added version I used for my first try. And I definitely like the soy-garlic-chili components with the peanut flavor.
I had my husband and kids taste the dish, too. My 7-year-old was a fan, my 5-year-old thought it was “too spicy” (that was because of the green onion), and my husband finished off the bowl.
I like this as a relatively quick and easy meal idea that’s not completely made up of empty carbs. The peanut butter adds protein and healthy fats, making the ramen slightly better for you.
I came across other peanut butter in ramen ideas online but didn’t try them myself. For example, there’s a This Healthy Table recipe that incorporates the seasoning packet from the ramen mix with peanut butter, sriracha, honey, garlic and some of the ramen cooking water. And a Mashed article on upgrading your ramen recommended using peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil and sambal oelek (an Indonesian chili sauce).
So, if you’re looking to upgrade your easy noodle dish, you might wish to put peanut butter in ramen!